New Parliamentary Building

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 January 1996.

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Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East 12:00, 15 January 1996

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what is his latest estimate of the cost of the new accommodation to be provided in phase 2 of the new parliamentary building. [7472]

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

The estimated cost of the new parliamentary building remains within the maximum risk estimate of £165 million which was approved by the House of Commons Commission in 1993. That figure excludes inflation in building costs between that date and 1999, when the building is scheduled for completion. As the House will realise, building cost inflation is difficult to predict.

Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Parliament should not only erect a very fine new building but achieve value for money for the taxpayer? Will he provide the House with full details of this very expensive new building so that we can have a proper debate about it?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend on both points—about the need for the building to be of high quality and yet not too extravagant. If he requires further information, I shall be delighted to provide it for him. He will, I am sure, recall that there has been a full debate on the matter in the House, and I think that I am right in saying that the overwhelming majority of hon. Members were in favour of the building going ahead.

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane , Rotherham

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many hon. Members are still working in offices, with members of their staff, in conditions that are wholly illegal? Given that not 100 yd from here there is another, largely unused Chamber with many offices around it, will he invite his honourable—in the full sense—and noble Friends to vacate those premises until such time as all democratically elected Members of Parliament have proper office facilities of their own?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind suggestion, but I am not sure that I am the best person to undertake that rather sensitive and difficult task.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Chipping Barnet

I accept that there must be value for money in any public sector or, indeed, private sector building project, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the new building is to be on one of the finest and most important sites in London and that it would be quite wrong for it to be built as cheaply as possible with poor quality materials? Does he agree that it is absolutely essential to use good quality materials so that the building will last for all time?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

My hon. Friend, with his architectural experience, puts his finger on the main point. It is essential that we do not ruin this very fine site so near the Palace of Westminster. I hope that the right balance has been achieved and that we shall have a building of high quality at reasonable cost.